Les Miserables Medley

28 01 2015

I have not done a book review for quite a while. I have been on a classic book kick, reading books like Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Melville, Hawthorne, and Hugo. For light entertainment I read books like Patterson, Flynn, Koontz, Grishom, King, and Dekker. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is an unforgettable book about human nature, struggle, misunderstanding, suffering, and true repentance. It is rather lengthy and I did not like all the French, but it was well worth the journey. I found this summery of the book in song, absolutely brilliant. To all you lovers of literature and music, enjoy.

Pastor Dave



5 must-read books by C.S. Lewis

6 12 2013

I have read four out of five and recommend C.S. Lewis to my thinking Christian Friends. Start with Mere Christianity. You have probably seen the Narnia movies. Be ready for surprisingly clear, creative, and novel ways of looking at faith and life. These suggestion are from the blog “Pastor Matt’.

Pastor Dave


Clive Staples Lewis went to be with the Lord fifty years ago today.  His death went largely unnoticed at the time because he passed on the same day that JFK was assassinated in Dallas.  According to those close to him, Lewis was relieved to leave this life and claim the righteousness that had been granted him by Christ.  He had been in a prolonged coma after watching his wife die. He had also spent decades caring for an alcoholic brother and was shunned by his peers at Oxford for daring to be an outspoken Christian and write popular level books.  Nearly all of his books have made an incredible impact for the Kingdom of God.  Here are five that every Christian should read before joining our brother Lewis in heaven.

5. The Problem of Pain (Cententary Press 1940).  A very good theodicy that should be read in conjunction with A Grief Observed (Faber and Faber 1961), which was written after the death of his wife. So, I guess I snuck in 6 books.

4. The Weight of Glory (SPCK 1941).  The transcript of a powerful sermon containing Lewis’ “argument from desire,” which I think many Christian apologists undervalue as a tool for evangelism.

3. The Screwtape Letters (Geoffrey Bles 1942).  A series of letters between an elder and young demon on their work.  It was a revelation once I came to Christ and realized how easily I had been led from my creator. A quick but powerful read.

2. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Geoffrey Bles 1950).  Perhaps the greatest children’s book ever written.  My elder sister read it to me as a boy.  The image of the powerful lion Aslan haunted me during my atheism.  I thank God He blessed me with the time to read it to my son as well.  A masterpiece.

1. Mere Christianity (Macmillan 1952).  If you have to pick one to read, this is it.  This book, the culmination of radio addresses delivered during World War II, has been used by the Lord to convert Charles Colson and Dr. Francis Collins.  Writer Donald Miller claims to read it every year.  I don’t blame him.  I’ve read it at least a half-dozen times and, Lord willing, will read it again.

The fact is, you can’t go wrong with anything written by Lewis.  God used him in a wonderful way but He didn’t grant the Oxford Don an easy life.  Yet, he is surely without worry today.  I certainly look forward to sharing many days in the new heavens and new earth with C.S. Lewis–undoubtedly over pints and pipe smoke.

Grace and peace.

The Last Full Measure

6 07 2013

I know this is a quote from the Gettysburg Address,but it is also the title of a book by Jeff Shaara that I have just completed. It is a sequel to his book Gods and Generals, telling a fictional story of the Civil War based on historical facts. It covers the War after the battle of Gettysburg until the surrender and even beyond. It follows major players in the War but has an emphasis on Grant and Lee. I identified with the suffering and death of that horrible war, picturing myself as a Brigade chaplain who must minister to the dying on the battlefield. I tried to imagine an area where 1000’s of Americans were slain. I felt the rage of Sheridan, the political battles of Lincoln, the faith of Lee, the daring of Stuart, the leadership of Hill, the bravery of Chamberlain,  and the military mind of Grant. I experienced the blast of a musket at close range  at the Crater, the power of a direct hit by a cannon at Petersburg, the consuming fire of the Wilderness, and the slow starvation of the Confederates. I sat by the campfire on both sides as they contemplated the cause for which they would be called upon to give their last full measure of devotion.

I wanted to put the book down and try not to think of the horror, but I kept reading, not wanting to ignore my country’s history. I am glad I did. As we just passed  the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, I would highly recommend this book. Even though you know the outcome of the war, you need to experience it’s sacrifice.

Crazy Love

10 10 2012

God. Who is He? What does He want with me? Can faith in God really make a difference in my life? Books were written on the subject, verse penned, songs sung. Francis Chan has written a classic on the subject of being loved by God and pursuing the God who loves us. He gives us a very personal challenge to consider how we are to respond to the God of the galaxies. It is a reality check and a Scriptural warning to the church at Laodicea (they were neither hot nor cold), that is thriving in our culture of mediocrity.

The book is powerful because it uses the Word of God to show us who God is, what we are, and the person that God can make of us. He covers topics like “the profile of the lukewarm”, “the profile of the obsessed”, “serving leftovers to a holy God”, and “your best life…later”. He gives examples of people and organizations living a life totally surrendered to God, and encourages the reader to follower them in this radical life of walking in intimacy with God. He will prove that our love life with God will drive us into a lifestyle of self-sacrifice, with love for the unlovable and compassion for the poor.

The teens in our church are going through a study of the DVD and study guide for the book. I would like to make the book available to the adults of the church and do a small group Bible study to closely look at the principles of “being overwhelmed by a relentless God”.

Pick up the book and give it a read. You will be convinced and convicted that the church is more than just three songs and a sermon.

Beyond My Limits

6 10 2012

The author of this book is a friend of mine. I was given his book when it was first published, but put it down until I finished reading the 2-3 others that I was reading or needed to read. Needless to say it was soon forgotten as it set on my bookshelf. It was truly my loss. I found the book very delightful, inspirational, and informational. He speaks of his over 2000 mile journey hiking the Appalachian Trail. Since he was a missionary to France, he was a sectional hiker, beginning in Georgia and ending in Maine, over a 9 years. He finished at the age of 67.

Along the way he not only describes breathtaking views of the Creator’s handiwork, but his witness of his God to other hikers. I marveled at the perseverance and sincerity of my friend, but also for the Creator God that he served. You will read it and feel his awe and spirit of worship.

It was ironic that I finished this wonderful book while overlooking the beautiful Smokey Mountains as I was vacationing in Tennessee. Needless to say, I was on the Appalachian Trail the next day! I walked the same path, felt the same exhilaration and awe.I now have the Appalachian Trail fever and want to hike sections of the trail (not its entirety), sleeping in shelters and tents. I want to witness more of the wonders of creation that I have taken for granted, giving even more reasons to worship the God who fashioned and detailed His works. I was also challenged to be a verbal witness of such.

I would highly recommend this book put out by WinePress Publishing. Enjoy the trip!

Tim Downs

5 09 2012

I would like to suggest another author to you. I picked up a couple of books written by Tim Downs when I was at the discounted book rack in our local Christian Book store. The books featured a colorful, warm, and very witty character named Nick. He is a “Bug Man”, one whose knowledge of insects and larva helps to figure time and cause of death in criminal cases. A take off of CSI, no doubt. The story lines are engaging, but the one liners of the main character are hilarious. I would classify the books as drama or even a low tensity thriller. They were a good read, no language or sex issues.

The fact that they were sold in a Christian Bookstore and published by Thomas Nelson (a Christian publisher) is interesting. Obviously Tim Downs is a believer who writes wholesome fiction, but there is little (if any) reference to Christianity. I would highly recommend books written by Tim Downs because they are wholesome fiction. Like me, you will fall in love with the “Bug Man”.

Leadership Journal

16 08 2012

I was introduced to this quarterly publication about 25 years ago and has proved a valuable tool. It is designed for Christian leadership in general, pastors in particular. Every issue deals with a theme pertinent to the ministry, along with other articles of interest such as news, polls, the best cartoons ever, and challenging thoughts meant to support passion for Christ. It is not a journal of dry theology but a handbook of practicality for busy Christian leaders. I save my copies that sometimes make it into a sermon series. Some copies just give food for thought, some I share with others. I do not read many magazines, but I devour this one. It is always relevent, always fresh. I highly recommend it for those in ministry.

The last issue covered the topic of Transformation, with nine articles written by seasoned pastors and authors. It also covered singles ministry, sabbaticals, chaplaincy, and college ministry. The main theme of the issue before that covered Spiritual Warfare with 11 articles on the subject in addition to articles on prayer, burnout, ministering to the disabled, and the measure of a good church. Along with that are smaller articles on trends in ministry and in culture.

I would recommend this publication for anyone in ministry or someone who just wants to be more effective in their service for Christ. It is published by Christianity Today. If you are local, I will lend you one to peruse.